Supreme Court of Georgia Raises the Bar for Bad Faith Claimants

In a long-anticipated ruling, the Supreme Court of Georgia clarified the state’s law on the prerequisites for an insured to sue its insurance carrier for bad faith failure to settle. The court asked the parties to address a specific question: does an insurer’s duty to settle arise only when an injured party presents a valid offer to settle within the insured’s policy limits or, even absent such an offer, does a duty arise when the insurer knows or reasonably should
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South Carolina High Court Allows Malpractice Claim by Insurer Against its Assigned Defense Counsel

Early March, in a narrow, carefully worded opinion, a divided Supreme Court of South Carolina ruled that a liability insurer may sue an attorney it retained to defend its insured where the attorney’s breach of its duty to the insured proximately causes the insurer damage. The decision adds South Carolina to the growing list of states that recognize a malpractice cause of action by an insurer against its assigned defense counsel. See Sentry Insurance Co. v. Maybank Law Firm, LLC, — S.E.2d
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Wisconsin Top Court Limits “Knowing Violation” Exclusion By Looking Beyond Facts Alleged in Complaint

In a decision that could expand the scope of the duty to defend, the Wisconsin Supreme Court recently held that a “knowing violation of the rights of another” exclusion did not apply even though the facts alleged suggested that it should. The court looked beyond the four corners of the complaint, which alleged willful and intentional conduct, and held that the insurer owed a duty to defend because some causes of action asserted in the complaint could potentially be satisfied
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Injured Employee Triggers Additional Insured Coverage

While awaiting the Appellate Division’s decision in M & M Realty of New York LLC v. Burlington Ins. Co., No. 153949/16, 2019 WL 1028971 (1st Dept. Mar. 5, 2019), we discussed the New York Supreme Court decision in a post in January. Last week the first department finally weighed in. Recall that the coverage dispute arises out of an underlying bodily injury case to an employee of L&M, which was hired by owner M&M to work on a project. M&M sought
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Illinois Appellate Court Reverses Course on Trigger for Malicious Prosecution Claims

An Illinois Appellate Court established a new rule for when malicious prosecution occurs and triggers coverage under a liability policy. In Sanders v. Illinois Union Insurance Company, the court determined that the triggering event for malicious prosecution coverage is the claimant’s exoneration, rather than the initiation of the alleged malicious prosecution. The rule established in Sanders is in direct contrast with a number of Illinois decisions, including several in the past few years that had held that the commencement of the
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New Jersey Appellate Court Prohibits Unlicensed Drivers From Collecting PIP Benefits

The New Jersey Appellate Division has ruled that an unlicensed driver may not recover PIP benefits for their own medical expenses sustained in an auto accident, even if they had permission from the vehicle’s owner to drive the vehicle. In Blanco-Sanchez v. Personal Service Insurance Company, A-5393-16 (Feb. 28, 2019), plaintiff, who was the daughter of the named insured, was injured in an accident that occurred while the plaintiff was moving her mother’s car to avoid getting a parking ticket.
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Denied Times Two: Prejudicial Late Notice and Contractual Limitation Period Both, Separately, Doom First Party Claim

Finding the prejudice from the insured’s late notice was manifest, a federal district court in Connecticut dismissed, with prejudice, a first-party coverage action brought by an insured against her homeowners’ insurer, Allstate Insurance Company. Ruling that the insured’s reporting of the claim to the insurer 14 months after the loss was a material breach of the policy’s notice provision that prejudiced the insurer, the court also concluded that the insured’s action was separately barred by the policy’s 18-month suit limitation
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Fourth Circuit Holds that Insured Must Strictly Comply with Notice Conditions

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, applying South Carolina law, recently held that an insurer had no duty to indemnify its insured for a default judgment on late notice grounds because the court found that the insured’s forwarding to the insurer’s agent of a notice of representation letter by the claimant did not constitute notice to the insurer of a lawsuit later filed by the claimant. Founders Ins. Co. v. Richard Ruth’s Bar & Grill LLC, No.
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Courts Continue to Raise the Bar for ROR Letters

Recently, it seems like courts are finding reservation of rights (ROR) letters to be ineffective, more often than not. Such was the case when the District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, applying Georgia law, held that an insurer that defends its insureds before reserving rights is estopped from later denying coverage. While this may seem obvious, the facts giving rise to the court’s decision are so common that this case should give us pause.  Recently, it seems like
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10th Circuit Holds that the Phrase “That Particular Part” in a CGL Policy’s “Damage To Property” Exclusion is Ambiguous

Noting the inconsistent treatment given to the “Damage To Property” exclusions commonly found in standard commercial general liability coverage forms, the United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, applying Oklahoma law, has held that the phrase “that particular part” in the exclusion is ambiguous. In MTI, Inc. v. Employers Insurance Company of Wausau, No. 17-6206, — F.3d —, 2019 WL 321423 (10 Cir. 2019), an insured contractor, MTI, Inc. (MTI) was retained by Western Farmers Electrical Cooperative (WFEC) to remove
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